Notre Dame jumped to No. 24 in the AP poll and stayed at No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, but perhaps more important are the jumps made by two teams the Irish beat.
Michigan State stomped Michigan on Saturday, 29-6, to improve to 8-1 on the season. The Spartans checked in at No. 18 in the AP and No. 19 in the coaches poll, and their only loss is to Notre Dame.
The Big Ten may be weak, but if Michigan State wins two of its next three games (at Nebraska, at Northwestern, vs. Minnesota) they'll secure a spot in the Big Ten Championship against Ohio State. The Spartans and their suffocating defense will likely be favored to go into that game at 11-1, again with that only loss to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame's win over Arizona State, too, looked a lot better after the Sun Devils throttled Washington State, 55-21, in Pullman Thursday night. Arizona State's point totals this year are as follows: 55, 32, 28, 62, 34, 54, 53, 55.
Arizona State's win over Wisconsin was controversial, and the loss at Stanford wasn't great. But the Sun Devils scored more points against Washington (53) than Oregon did (45) and have the nation's sixth-best scoring offense.
Like Michigan State, Arizona State is in the driver's seat to reach its conference championship. It's not an easy path -- Arizona State gets a salty Utah team in Salt Lake City this week, then faces Oregon State at home before key divisional games at UCLA and at home against Arizona.
Navigating that path could mean a Pac-12 Championship date with an undefeated Oregon, or a rematch with Stanford (depending on what happens Thursday in Palo Alto).
Basically, the gist of this: Notre Dame does have two quality wins to its resume. But that won't matter much unless the Irish beat BYU and Stanford to close out the regular season.
That would give Notre Dame four quality wins and 10 overall. So while the Irish may be floundering near the bottom of top 25 polls right now, that's not important. The last two Saturdays in November are what matters.